Caterina Zapponi
"Caterina is blessed to have her own style which is both original and refreshing. You'll find yourself listening to her over and over again. She'll be around a long, long time."
-- Ramsey Lewis

Jazz Times
Caterina Zapponi

Though Caterina Zapponi was born in Rome and raised among Italy’s artistic cognoscenti (her mother is a singer of French origin, her screenwriter father crafted both Roma and Satyricon with Federico Fellini), it was a viewing of the Cole Porter musical High Society that ignited her desire to study jazz in America. She earned a scholarship to Berklee and subsequently finished fourth in the 1994 Monk vocal competition. But her biggest break came later in the ’90s, when she met pianist Monty Alexander, who, as her husband, manager and frequent accompanist, has facilitated her musical maturation.

Alexander was the cornerstone of her multilingual debut album, 2001’s Universal Love Songs, and is again for this long-overdue sophomore release. While the first album provided a lovely introduction, Zapponi’s ease and assuredness have since grown exponentially. Favoring a smoldering style that is equal parts Julie London and Françoise Hardy, she again opts for a cross-cultural play list, venturing from a shimmering “Stardust” sung in Italian and sweltering “Estate” to a breathy “Que reste-t’il de nos amours” and lazily inviting “Non Dimenticar.”

The mood is mellow and seductive (even when she salutes Count Basie in a clever French reworking of “L’il Darlin’”), much enhanced by all-star support that includes dual Pizzarellis (guitarist Bucky and bassist Martin), guitarist Frank Vignola, violinist Kristian Jorgensen and Etienne Charles on the lute-like cuatro.

-- Christopher Loudon, Jazz times

Vocalist Caterina Zapponi;s latest album, Romantica – produced by her husband, pianist Monty Alexander – is a loving tribute to the French and Italian songs she heard in her parents' record collection while growing up in Rome as the daughter of famed Italian screenwriter and Felini collaborator Bernardo Zapponi and French chanteuse Francoise Rambert.

Alexander's light, impeccably swinging handiwork is everywhere. The producer brought along Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Yotam Silberstein on guitars, Martin Pizzarelli on bass and, for a couple of original compositions that close the album, Alexander's longtime bassist Hassan Shakur. The two Alexander-Zapponi compositions stand apart, islands of more mainstream jazz in a sea of vintage material. They are nicely rendered vehicles for both singer and pianist, yet sound a bit like refugees from another album.

Zapponi, a Berklee grad and former Thelonious Monk Jazz Composition finalist,is a vocalist of skill and poise; her singing here, all in Italian or French, oozes charm. Most of the songs are offered in the drum-less swing trio format of piano, guitar and bass, associated with Alexander's idol Nat “King” Cole, who is well represented here with three of his staples, “Non Dimenticar,” “Stardust” and “Que Reste-T-il De Nos amours” (better known to American fans as “I Wish You Love”), written by the iconic French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet. A brilliant recital of Neal Hefti's “Lil Darlin'” perfectly captures Count Basie's sly swing. With the added spice of Zapponi's sexy vocal, you may conclude that resistance is futile.

-- Allen Morrison, Downbeat magazine

Daughter of an Italian father and a French mother, but long resident in New York, Caterina Zapponi switches easily between both her parental languages on this charming 13-track record. The singer’s choice of chansons and Italian standards sit well with the band led by her husband, the veteran jazz pianist, Monty Alexander.  

Accompanied by just one expressive guitar and a little bass, Bora Bora is tender and particularly beautiful. Yearning and loss are conjured impressively by the singer on the Trenet/Chauliac classic, Que Reste-t-il de Nos Amours? on which she is accompanied solely by Yotam Silberstein’s expressive guitar.

Listen too to that Italian saga of disillusioned amour that is Estate and you know Zapponi is much more than a purveyor of the sparkling nonchalance of J’ai Ta Main, the opener.

Estate  - the word means ‘Summer’ in English - was a minor pop hit in 1960. Shortly afterwards, the great Brazilian genius João  Gilberto purred his way instinctively into what is the supreme version of the Martino/Brighetti classic. Inscrutable and emotionally introverted, Gilberto’s take is one of the greatest jazz covers of all time.

But don’t go to Youtube to check out Zapponi’s live version, where Monty and the band manhandle the song into funk territory, making it edgily urban like Steely Dan. Estate has to be sung with care and love.

The important things is that Zapponi comes close on this record to Gilberto’s sensitivity, whatever about that middling live version. On the album, she conveys, as the song is supposed to do, the sense of human vulnerability counterpointed against seasons that just repeat themselves, no matter what befalls us.

Throughout the album, guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli joins Zapponi on guitar, along with two other guitarists, Frank Vignola and the aforementioned Yotam Silberstein. Martin Pizzarelli plays bass and Kristian Jorgensen sympathetic violin.  Highly recommended.

-- Paddy Kehoe, RTE

Caterina Zapponi
Caterina Zapponi, Media

Caterina Zapponi, born and raised in Rome, Italy, is the daughter of one of Italy´s most famous movie script writers Bernardino Zapponi and his French wife. Zapponi Pere wrote the screen plays for two of Federico Fellini's more famous (or infamous, your choice) movies, Roma and Satyricon. Zapponi studied at the Berklee College of Music. Later she entered the Thelonious Monk competition and came in 4th among singers.

The play list and the singing are both eclectic indeed. Singing in five languages, Zapponi confronts a program of love sings from different countries and sources. There are from the repertoire of the well-known French entertainer, Charles Azanour, Reggae giant Bob Marley and Brazil with Oscar Castro-Neves. But the home of the popular song, the United States, has the most selections from composers who have major entries in the great American Popular Songbook like Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mandel. Irrespective of the geneses or style of the music, Zapponi handles all with skill and feeling with a soft but very expressive vocal style. Her ability to project the emotion of each song without overwhelming it comes across on a lovely Morrer de Amor with Monty Alexander on the melodica. She is shamelessly erotic on "My Heart Sings" as she "remembers those little things".

It helps considerably that she is backed by some of jazz's best known musicians. In addition to Monty Alexander (listen to him go on "For Me Formidable)", there's drummer Martin Drew and the brothers' Petrocca on guitar and bass. This a great album. The liner notes are in just two languages.

Track Listing: My Heart Sings; Morrer de Amor; Passione; All the Way; For Me Formidable; Il Nostro Concerto; Waiting in Vain; Que Nao Se Ve (Come to Me Later); Mon Dieu; When You Go; L.O.V.E.; Maybe September; Acercate Mas; I Live to Love You

Personnel: Caterina Zapponi - Vocals; Monty Alexander - Piano/Melodica; Martin Drew - Drums; Davide Petrocca - Bass; Lorenzo Petrocca - Guitar

Published: June 1, 2001

London TimesJazz singers at home with chanson and cabaret are always in short supply. The Berklee-trained, Italian-french Zapponi (daughter of the Fellini screenwriter Bernardio Zapponi) criss-crosses frontiers with the help of a sleek band led by Monty alexander, a pianist who is on a creative roll at the moment. The ghost of Charles Trenet and Henri Salvador hover in the background, and Stardust sounds even more haunting in Italian. Zapponi never overelaborates; storytelling comes first. Cook summer fare.

--London Times

Italian-French singer Caterina Zapponi celebrates her musical heritage in the company of such A-list musicians as pianist Monty Alexander (her husband) and guitarist extraordinaire Frank Vignola and Bucky Pizzarelli and the result is a very personal album. Zapponi had a gorgeous, rich voice and swinging style and is at her most appealing on the french numbers including here notably the jaunty Jai Ta Main and the standout Que Reste-t-il De Nos Amours but a couple of the unjazzy Italian numbers disrupt the flow and spoil the mood.

--Alison Kerr